Sheena Robin Harris did an amazing job with her A Contract of Words story “Technical Jargon”. It is a humorous tale about what could happen if you don’t read the “technical jargon” in a contract. The main character, John, hires a plumber to fix a leaky sink, but as soon as he leaves the room, the plumber helps himself to what’s in the fridge and starts blaring Christmas music, even though it’s July.
We’ve all had a guest who has made themselves a little too comfortable, but I’ve never paid a professional who felt the urge to make themselves a sandwich.
Harris does an incredible job at bringing her characters to life. Each of these men sound like people I know and I could picture them clearly as I read. Her writing is outstanding and I was engaged throughout.
The little twist in the contract made me laugh out loud. It wasn’t what I expected and I was glad I read it.
What is your story about?
When not-so-handy Jonathan Cross calls a plumber because his wife won’t let him fix the kitchen sink on his own, the plumber who shows up seems a little too cliche, a little too comfortable in the house, and a little too festive for July. Signing the dotted line without close examination of the contract proves to be a huge mistake, but Jonathan realizes his folly much too late—even though the ink has barely had time to dry.
Are your characters based off anyone you know?
As much as I’d like to say yes, they’re actually not. As with any story penned by an author, the details and some character attributes sprung from certain life experiences, maybe even from experiences with specific people, but none of the characters are based solely on any certain person.
What inspired you to write this story?
I spent some time mulling over common types of contracts, those that most people could identify with, and the idea for a service contract with some type of contractor came to mind. From there, it was: What would happen if a homeowner signed a service contract without reading the fine print? What could be in that fine print they should’ve read?
Did you plan to submit to A Contract of Words or was it spontaneous?
I did plan to submit at least one story but thought after I submitted the first, I thought I was probably not going to do the second one. However, I had an idea hit me the day before the submission deadline, and I knew I had to get it in. So “Technical Jargon” was actually mainly written and edited within the few hours leading up to the submission deadline. I believe I managed to get it in with about ten minutes to spare.
What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted into A Contract of Words?
Shock! Seriously—utter disbelief. I know there are so many talented writers who submit their stories in hopes of getting into the Of Words series and doubted mine could measure up to theirs. When I learned my first story had been accepted, you couldn’t smack the smile off of my face. Later when “Technical Jargon” was also accepted by a fluke (only one story per author is allowed, but Brian had picked my second story without realizing what he had done—at least I believe that’s what happened), I thought I must’ve been dreaming. Of course, later on, the rest of the chosen authors voted on the two stories and “Technical Jargon” was the top-runner in that poll. I’ve written my entire life, but to be recognized for it, and twice at that, was a lifelong dream come true. It was one of those life experiences as a writer that you store away in your memory files and work toward making happen again—and want to happen as often as possible.
Scout Media sends a companion CD with each anthology. Did you choose a song to go with your story? If you did, tell us why you chose it.
Having a companion song to your story is one of the coolest things about getting published in these anthologies, but unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with a song for “Technical Jargon.” I really did want a song, but finding one to fit was simply too much of a stretch.
What is your writing process like? Did you use an outline for this or just sit and write? How long did it take you to write this story?
I’m a total pantser. I don’t do outlines because outlines kill my creativity. I think maybe it has something to do with being a professional writer in my actual career, which is a form of writing that is so formal and so technical, there’s little room for creativity. If I outline a creative work of mine, it feels a lot like that. “Technical Jargon” was spilled out in a few short hours. There was no real prior planning and no outline.
How did you choose your story title? Do you choose the story title before or after you write a story?
Sometimes I pick a story title when I start writing, but it almost always changes. I guess I’m a creature of habit because, with this story, it was the same process. I can’t remember my initial title now, but somewhere around halfway through, the right title hit me like it usually does, and I changed it. Because the story revolves around overlooking all that technical jargon and fine print, the title seemed appropriately fitting.
Which of the stories in A Contract of Words is your favorite and why?
This book is filled with so many awesome stories! I’ve read them all, and so many of them stick out to me as incredibly creative and impressive. Some of them are so disturbing, like Gabriella Balcom’s “Bobby – You’d Never Guess” and Ian Thomas Bishop’s “Bard’s Folly.” Some of them are downright hilarious, like Larry Herscovitch’s “The Case of the Missing Cookies.” However, if I had to pick a top favorite, my choice is, hands-down, “A Guy Walks into a Bar” By S. Lyle Lunt. This story had me laughing and crying, and it is one of those that pulls at the heartstrings in a way that is so damn surprising and unexpected.
Which of the songs from the companion CD is your favorite and why?
It’s really hard to pick a favorite with such an impressive lineup. However, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers hold a special place for me, so “Two Gunslingers” would have to be my favorite. The story Brian Paone spun around that song makes for a truly incredible collaboration.
Do you have any other work published? Where can we find it?
“Technical Jargon” is my first formally published piece of fiction. I hope there will be much more to come and plan to release my first novel, Lost in Reverie, by winter 2018.
How do we connect with you and find more about upcoming work?
I can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SheenaRobinHarris.Author/?ref=settings.